Home Sweet Home

FOOD

I didn’t snap a pic of it, but my Christmas dinner made by my BIL was Tofurkey sausage, baked potato, sweet potato, and corn. It was very filling and yummy and I couldn’t finish my plate!

Thursday I had lunch with my boyfriend – Thai of course!

Dinner was veggie burgers. Nothing fancy.

Friday morning was a smoothie, lunch was a slow cooker sweet potato, white bean, and kale soup, and dinner was R and I out with my guy and his son at Yard House where I had the gardein orange “chicken”.

Saturday was an oatmeal and banana breakfast, and lunch was busting out the Ninja Foodi for a brown rice with roasted sweet potato and tofu meal. SO good. Plus a BAS (big ass salad). I made a vegan ranch dressing for the salad and for dipping veggies.

Dinner Saturday was out with my guy at the Grilled Cheese Bistro in Norfolk. I had a vegan caprese sammich that was epically delicious. I couldn’t finish it – but I really wanted to! Before dinner, we stopped for drinks at one of our fav eclectic spots downtown.

This morning was a breakfast salad at Whole Foods and then leftover soup for lunch. Snacked on some veggies with dip too.

FITNESS

Friday I did a YouTube spin class in my garage followed by some yoga.

Yesterday I went to the gym and did the weight circuit and then ran 3 miles.

Also – today marked a 14 day streak for daily meditation. I’m using Headspace and love it.

LIFE

Okay, Christmas evening was spent at my sisters with my mom as well. We exchanged gifts and had dinner. After taking my mom back to her place, I walked Kuma and then R and I packed since we were hitting the road early the next morning.

My seester made me vegan cookies!
Little bear and mini moose!
Christmas afternoon cocktails with my sister
My parents look so young!!!
My mom holding me as a baby

Gift from my sister. So funny (and it shouldn’t be – it’s actually tragic)
Jordy getting jealous of my sister snuggling Kuma

Silly text with my guy about Kuma hogging the bed

And indeed, on Wednesday we were on the road by 540am. A quick stop at Starbucks, and we ended up pushing straight through to home with brief stops for gas and to walk Kuma. Traffic was strange – part of I-80 was shut down due to a major accident, so we were routed into Michigan for a bit. All was fine until we got near DC, which sucked royally. We should’ve gotten home by 930, but it was almost 1130 by the time we rolled in. But – felt great to get home.

Kid slept the better part of the 16 hr drive.

Thursday early my guy came over. Excellent timing as he helped save Kuma’s life! She had gotten into some chocolate my son left on his floor (ugh), and thankfully my boyfriend knew how to make Kuma vomit! Hydrogen peroxide on a pancake. Worked like a charm too – poor bear. Once we knew she was fine, we had some wonderful quality time together.

Thursday afternoon R and I went to the SPCA where we promptly fell in love with a 1 year old cat named Mena! She was very outgoing and demanding face scratches. We knew she was meant for us. We filled out the application and went home. Sure enough, the next morning we got the call that we were approved! They had to validate I owned my home and that Kuma was up to date on her immunizations. So – off we went! We’ve renamed her Luna (a name my boyfriend picked out and R and I thought was perfect). Her and Kuma’s meeting was relatively uneventful. I think Kuma is happy to have a kitty again. She’s missed Ginny and Bumble.

Saturday was grocery shopping and errand running, and then an evening and overnight with my guy. We were originally planning to go to Christmastown in Williamsburg, but decided to stay close to home. By the end of the night, we had gone to 3 bars and 1 restaurant. Heard some local music, and then went back to his place. Awesome night all around.

One of our stops was at Grain. I wanted to see the life sized ginger bread house in the Hilton Main where Grain (it’s a rooftop bar) is. And we’ve always enjoyed going there for drinks.

This morning we went out for coffee, and then he headed home while I went to Whole Foods. Went home, ran out again for some errands, and have mostly been just relaxing (aka – bored out of my mind!).

All my kids are now home! M got home from NY yesterday, and A got home from Toronto today! Nice to have them all home again.

And Luna is having fun exploring! The first day she spent much of it under my bed. But she’s been going around a lot, but mostly seems to stay upstairs.

Her food and liter box are in the laundry room, which I separate with a baby gate to keep Kuma out

So it’s been a week of home sweet home for sure! Going back to my old “home” to visit family for the holidays. Then the joy of coming back home to Virginia, which is very much our home now. To bringing Luna to her new forever home. All sweet indeed.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, still nothing great to report. Haven’t been overly contentious of spending, and that’s not good – that’s backtracking to old habits.

Home for the Holidays!

FOOD

Most of the time since the last post has been on the road and away from home, but not all!

PRT – or pre-road trip was all about cooking up what I already had in the house. I didn’t want to grocery shop when no one would be home.

One meal was a Gardein skillet thing. It wasn’t bad.

There was oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast. And since I had 2 blocks of tofu, pressed that and made jerk tofu, coconut rice, and tamari mushrooms.

Then it was road trip food, of which I’ve taken very little photographs. We packed a lot of snacks, so that was mostly what we ate. Also got a falafel at a rest stop in Chicago! That was fun.

There was one fun night at a restaurant in Youngstown, OH – which turns out to be where one of my coworkers is from! Salad and pasta primavera.

Oh, and my sister did homemade pizzas last night. Tried the So Delicious Mozzarella for the first time. It was good, though I think I still like Daiya better.

FITNESS

Nothing since I left on Friday – didn’t even pack workout clothes. Winter in Wisconsin – I’m not running outside!

But the few days before I went to the gym each day.

LIFE

So this holiday season is a bit unique. It’s my first one without all my kids with me since having them. My oldest is in Toronto celebrating with her soon to be husband’s family. My middle is in Albany meeting and celebrating with his girlfriend’s dad and family.

So, R and I came to my hometown in Wisconsin to spend the holiday with family. It started with a road trip Friday morning. An overnight in Ohio, and arrived late afternoon on Saturday.

Day 1 and all excited! Also, grandest Kumaventure yet!
The rest of the 2 days was largely R and Kuma sleeping

Elevators confused her…

Ah Chicago. Did not miss your traffic…

On Sunday was my big family party, which was awesome. First time all the cousins have been together in at least 10 years – mainly because I don’t often come home. My cousins all have kids now, and many are similar ages to R, so she had a totally great time – which made the whole trip worth it.

My cousin hosted the party at my sisters house. Fun tags on the wine!

R and her cousins goofing off in the game room

All the cousins’ kids! So fun to see them all together
My BIL wearing his white elephant gift – one I brought

The youngest cousin!
Me and most of my cousins. I really do miss them all.

Christmas Eve R and I and my niece and sister went to see Mary Poppins, which was really good. Then had pizzas.

Today is a quiet day. Will go over by my mom’s in a few hours, spend time there, then bring her back to my sisters for dinner and gift exchange. All told, a quite and nice trip home – though I miss my older two a lot and hope they’re having a great time.

Tomorrow we hit the road for our journey back to VA!

Last Thursday the kids and I actually exchanged our gifts. My youngest got me a Ninja Foodi! I’m SO excited. I used it that night to make the jerk tofu. Can’t wait to get home and play!

I’m also looking forward to NYE. That evening my boyfriend and his kids and me and mine are having our Christmas. I’m very much looking forward to that.

Otherwise – fun times!

End of day 1 travel selfie sent to my guy. Of course he had to send me one too!

Kuma and Jordy getting to know each other
Kuma, my sister, and I watching Bird Box on Netflix Saturday night.

Next 3 pics are a progression of my Aunt feeding Kuma….

My Year of Less

No comment 😏

Comfort vs Survival

FOOD

Fairly typical eats. A couple smoothies and oatmeal largely in the mornings – especially cold ones.

Minor explosion in the microwave. Oops.

A few outings for Thai, Indian, and a veggie burger.

Vegan burger at Yard House – out with R before an event

Ezekiel bread, sunflower seed butter, banana, and agave

On Thursday a couple friends came over (long overdue hanging out), and I made a build your own taco bar with tofu/potato tacos, Venezuelan black beans, and a totally yummy slaw. The slaw was freaking amazing – A and I kept picking at it while waiting for people, and she eventually just ate a big bowl full.

Ate mine as a bowl topped with Daiya shreds, hot sauce, and pickled jalapeños

FITNESS

Went for 3 runs last week and did yoga twice. Ankle feels totally fine and my calf was mostly good too, yay!

Now, must avoid any other dumb injuries…..

LIFE

Speaking of injuries, R started physical therapy for her wrist this week. She hurt it about 6 weeks ago. No break, but the doc was calling it a sprain/soft tissue damage and she was in a splint for a month. She has to do her exercises at least 5 days per week, and she’ll go to physical therapy weekly for the next 6. Overall though, she’s healing nicely. Was worried for a bit there that she’d need a cast.

On Tuesday, R and I went to an Camping Basics class at REI! It was really interesting, and we learned a great deal. For example, the differences between men’s and women’s sleeping bags are both in where the zipper is, and in what the number ratings actually mean.

For example – I’m eyeing this beauty right here.

See the 20? That means it will be comfortable for me to sleep in when the weather is as cold as 20 degrees.

Now see this one? Same manufacturer. Same numeric rating.

The difference? This means that a man can survive in weather as cold as 20 degrees. He will NOT be comfortable. He simply won’t die.

Our camping instructor was very specific that we understand this. And then complained at how dumb it is to have a difference at all. Men would like to be comfortable too. And women care about not dying. So yes – the numbers on a sleeping bag are about comfort vs survival.

Wednesday I focused on getting the majority of my school work done. Everything was read and 2 papers written. I spent a bit of that time at Starbuck’s with R as she did school stuff too.

Thursday was my friends A and D and his wife P over for dinner, drinks, and laughs.

Friday was running around like crazy, and then Saturday morning it was off to Alexandria for a holiday celebration with my guy and my grad school friends. Our hostess A was perfect as always, and the event was a ton of fun. We did a white elephant gift exchange.

We stopped in Richmond on the way up for a store I wanted to hit up for one of our gifts, then got to Alexandria, stopped for a drink or two (I had a sangria + margarita that was pretty tasty!). Then to the hotel for a while, then dinner and off to the party!

Today was up early to hit the road. I spent some time suffering for the amount of fun I managed the night before (ugh), but after a nap and some caffeine and food, I felt fine enough to get the rest of my school work done.

Me just getting comfy on the drive home

So all told, awesome festive weekend full of friends, fun, and the best boyfriend/babysitter a girl could have 😂.

Okay, so this is a screen shot of part of a book I’m reading – all still part of the becoming a morning person gig (which honestly is going pretty well). It talks about people who are overwhelmed so they hate mornings, and then people who are underwhelmed. This really spoke to me and think that’s largely been me. Kind of goes back to a previous post about not having that 5 year plan worked out. Thankfully it’s coming together a little bit at a time.

MY YEAR OF LESS

I don’t have my November stats yet (Quicken doesn’t post pending charges, so it’ll be a few days), so that report will come in the next post.

I have all my Christmas shopping done with the exception of my guy’s youngest, but I know what I’m getting – just need to coordinate getting it.

I also paid off two credit cards at the end of the month, which is cool, and added several hundred to the emergency fund. All told – good progress!

Leftovers, Road Trip, and I am NO Amateur

FOOD

Well there have been LOTS of leftovers! Nothing wrong with Tofurkey for breakfast! (Along with mashers, butternut squash, etc…).

Saturday was a day trip to Richmond. Had a couple apps (black bean hummus and creole chips) while out with friends, and then a veggie stir fry at a Chinese place called Fat Dragon that was totally amazing.

Today I made a big batch of ramen that was just okay. I was in a hurry, and skimped on the broth – which made it decent enough, but not worth leftovers. Shame too.

Dinner was a simple stir-fry tofu BAS. And yes, I found lettuce not trying to off me. Still find it funny that this is my daughter’s fav way for me to make it – pan fried until starting to brown and then add Tamar (gf soy sauce).

FITNESS

Oddly enough, I think my ankle is totally fine. It was still a little sore Saturday, but by Saturday night, I took off the Ace bandage and all was well.

Wanted to run today, but it started pouring. Did some spin in my garage instead! Hope to run tomorrow – should be dry!

LIFE

Been a great couple of days, other than my epic day of school procrastination hell, I really can’t complain. Saturday was up early (yay for the morning person thing!), got a few things done, and then headed over to my guy’s house. I left my car there and he drove to Richmond, with a shopping pit stop in Williamsburg along the way.

Spotted this in a WB shop. Thought it was funny.

We spent the afternoon with my girlfriend HF and her husband and two little ones. She picked this hipster bowling alley, and it was a ton of fun. The idea was the boys bowl so the adults to could hang out. It largely worked. Then we went furniture shopping (we were all on the lookout for something).

We also had a Governor sighting! We didn’t bother him, BUT I did surreptitiously snap a pick and tag him on Twitter. (Psst….not a skilled bowler).

So – it was a totally crap day weather wise. Pouring all day. Between the bowling alley and furniture shopping, we stopped at Target and I saw this car. Dude really needs to re-evaluate his transportation options. The tarp was full of rain water.

After we went to Buskey’s – our fav cidery, and then dinner and home. I was up early Sunday and headed home. I took a nap and then got cracking on laundry and school stuff. Let’s just say I had to finish 4 papers and 4 major spreadsheets with varying approaches towards demand forecasting. Fun. Times. I went to bed about 130am….

Needless to say, I did not set a 530 am alarm today. 7 was early enough, thank you.

Today R finished putting together the bookshelves. I’m so excited – everything is coming together nicely. I still need a side table for the new accent chair and about 2 nice sized area rugs – one for the study and one for the family room.

The no-show/no-reply contractor finally did contact me and ended up coming over on Sunday. He’s the only one who went into the crawl space to see if there was any water damage from the bathroom. But, now I have my three quotes. I’m already discounting the first guy, so it’s down to the other two. My preference is the 2nd group that came out, but will depend on timing. Those quotes were literally $10 different. Hopefully that’ll be completed in the next two weeks, and then the floors will really be done!

Slow morning this morning with sleeping in a bit

So A braided her little sister’s hair over the weekend. Promises to teach her how to do it

So the morning thing is going well. Other than this morning getting up at 7, I’ve been up at 530 every day. Earlier on Sunday – woke closer to 430. It still takes me some time for my brain to wind down – which is why it took me over 90 minutes to fall asleep last night. After being hyper focused on school stuff for over 12 hours, that was bound to happen. Overall though, the insomnia is light years better.

MY YEAR OF LESS

Again, been pretty tame. I’m nearly done Christmas shopping – which NEVER happens this early! All my kids are done, my sister, her husband, her daughter, my guy, and his oldest. I have left my mom, my nephew, and my guy’s youngest – though I know what I’m getting him – just need to get it. Very proud in how I shopped and planned this year.

That’s been the only expenditure other than the weekend adventure. Haven’t needed to pick up groceries, so it’s been the gifts and bills.

Awesome Weekend and NO MORE CARPET

FOOD

All yummy on the food front! Managed only one smoothie since my last blog post! You know it’s getting chilly out when smoothie intake tanks.

Did have lots of other fun stuff tho – and a mixture of eating in, eating out, and travel meals.

The fickn quesadilla from Hell’s Kitchen in Norfolk.
General Tso’s Tofu out w my guy

Whole wheat roti

One of foods I really liked growing up was egg salad. Thankfully, it’s easy to make a vegan version, and I literally seen dozens. My stand by is so simple, but I make it all the time. The firm silken tofu from Mori-Nu is perfect. I cube it, put it thru an egg slicer, and mix with vegan mayo and mustard. Sometimes I add things, like onion, celery, relish, etc, but not this time!

Also made a vegan mac that’s an oldie but goodie from the very first vegan blogger I ever followed – and have been lucky enough to meet several times now. Her food is amazing and very much in line with how I like to cook (low or no fat/oil).

This time of year I really go for the kale-based BAS (Big Ass Salad for new readers) always with a tahini dressing and loaded with whatever I have.

So simple! Equal parts water, lemon juice, tahini, and nutritional yeast. Plus salt.
Love my Tribest personal blender for dressings. My vitamix is just too big for that.

My guy spent the weekend and we had a couple really yummy meals. Friday night was Italian and listening to A tell funny work stories (she works in the emergency department).

Last night was him on the grill and me on the baked mac no cheese! So excited to finally have the Beyond Meat brats! Rounded out with salad and rosemary/garlic grilled potatoes, it was awesome.

Made the mac gluten free for my son’s gf who can’t have gluten

FITNESS

Embarrassing to say – not a whole lot! Had about 2 runs and some yoga at home. That’s it. The good news is that as of today, I officially have my garage back to normal – and that means the home gym!

LIFE

THE FLOORS ARE DONE! Finished them on the 10th, and the rest of the trim this past Friday. We all signed the back of the last board that went in. I do have to get a professional in to do the downstairs half bath, but otherwise, they are finished – and totally beautiful! The house is largely put back together – just a few things I need to pick up yet, but I seriously couldn’t be happier.

Veteran’s Day I went to lunch with my guy, one of my really good friends, her husband, their son, and his brother and his wife. All but two of us are either active duty or vets, so it was a free lunch and a chance to see J and K who moved to MD this past summer – so it was awesome they were in town.

I had a quick work trip in Chicago last week that went really well. It was ridiculously cold – but otherwise had a great time.

I always stay at the Palmer House when I’m in Chicago. They have this amazing old world apothecary called Merz’s that I just love. I definitely picked up a few things, including fun bath stuff for while I was there.

The conference was about consumerism – and this was probably one of my favorite sessions about DIY care.

I mentioned my guy spent the weekend. Friday after the trim was done and dinner eaten, we watched a movie. I had been wanting to see the new Blade Runner 2049 since it came out, and we were going to rent it. Did some reading and found we really should watch the original 1982 one. I had seen it once, but I think I was 17 or so and didn’t remember it. I’ll be honest – I REALLY wanted to love it. But it was just strange. We were both not thrilled, so decided to not watch the new one after all. I probably will someday – when I don’t have to pay for it 😏.

My great friend NS from Nairobi sent a care package to me of coffee! His friend is in Virginia Beach for a dental conference, and brought this for me. Definitely had the one on the right this morning! It was so good.

Saturday we did a bunch of errands – took carpet to the dump, got his tools back to his house, and returned all the extra boxes of wood I ended up not needing. Then it was dinner, and he and I and my son and his girlfriend went out. Starting at Birch, then Torch, a brief stop at Grain (was WAY too busy), and then ended at Hell’s Kitchen. And of course we used Lyft the entire night.

Today was naps, school work, and laundry and not much else ☺️.

All told, it was a really perfect weekend, and I am one lucky girl.

Good progress on the becoming a morning person thing. I finished the Miracle Morning and have been using it as a blueprint for my own mornings. So yay!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Other than home improvement stuff, this is going quite well. I’ve started Christmas shopping and have a very set budget for it – so here’s hoping I stick within it! I use the Christmas Club account through the credit union at work, so that makes a big difference. R, Kuma, and I are going to WI for the holidays, so there will be more expense than planned, but it’ll be fine.

I do need to buy a bookshelf for my study. The one I had was broken, so this is a replacement. I also need to pick up a couple area rugs as well and I’d like a wingback chair and table for the sitting area in my study. I’m looking at Wayfair and Birch Lane and will see about Black Friday furniture sales. The rugs can wait – will be in the DC area in a couple weekends and will hit up IKEA since ours doesn’t open in Norfolk until Spring.

Doomsday Bubble Blanket!

FOOD

Pretty typical, though had a few days on the road. Smoothies, leftover lasagna-ladas, a vendor dinner at a restaurant in Virginia Beach that has a dish I adore.

Busy dish, but yummy!
Taco salad
R and I split this. I had the burger and she ate the fries! Pretty good homemade vegan burger at an Irish restaurant in Baltimore
Brown rice, steamed veggies, and my fav acorn squash Alfredo sauce

FITNESS

Still following the LIIFT4 schedule and running when I can. Friday was golf (though to be fair, it really wasn’t strenuous – more of a party). And the weekend was walking around Baltimore, but nothing crazy.

LIFE

It was a busy, but good week. Spent some time with my guy at a local brewery/cidery that recently opened. Vendor dinner on Wednesday. Work, and then our IT sponsored charity golf event on Friday.

Saturday my youngest and I and my guy and his kids went up to Baltimore for the rest of the weekend. My very good friend M is a Navy Captain, and his strike group was organizing Fleet Week. On Saturday we went on tours of 5 ships, and it was awesome having M educating us. They were all older ships – like the Constellation (Civil war era), etc. It was very overcast, so the airshow was difficult to see.

So lighthouse ships are interesting. They do the same job as lighthouses, but it turns out they’re not particularly well built and seaworthy, and they often get damaged!

Quite cramped on the old sub, but interesting to see how people lived on board

A replica of where the officers and CPO’s hung out. The pic is mainly of the cribbage board – which I have taught and played with my guy and his youngest.
This old Coast Guard ship was WW2 era, and they had a dog on board who’s journey was chronicled as well

M explaining something to R!

So kind odd, but I imagine it’ll be really pricy.

Just like I mentioned with my friend D and the air show a couple weeks ago, it’s so amazing to see M in his military element. We know him as this very kind, gentle, hard working, brilliant, and generous man. To see him this weekend, was to see a new side of him. Quite honestly, the most fun may have been the sheer look of terror/awe on every individual in uniform when they saw him. The snap to attention and salutes. Turns out my friend is quite a big deal 🙂

Saturday night we stayed with friends. Bon fires, drinks, and catching up. Very awesome.

Sunday was back to the Inner Harbor to meet back up with M and other friends that came up from DC. We had private tours of active ships, including one named for my hometown, the USS Milwaukee! Again, amazing to see the reverence in which M was treated. The whistles and call to attention for each ship that a captain was boarding.

We got a tour of a Canadian ship as well, and it was fun to have M explain the mechanics better than the Canadian sailor could. To be fair, the gentleman touring with us is an Engineer, and probably didn’t know as much about some of the operations of the ship as M (a 27 year veteran) could. There was also a medical emergency while we were on board, so the crew was naturally distracted. It was still fun.

This is from the Canadian ship

This is a USNS ship – The City of Bismarck. And it was REALLY cool!

So this last pic is of the City of Bismarck. It’s a spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship that supports military and humanitarian efforts. Run by Merchant Marines (hence the USNS and not USS), they can deploy around the world really, really quickly. The ship is gorgeous – just commissioned a year ago, it has some cool capabilities. One of them is to haul tons of equipment (tanks, etc). In talking about their firefighting capabilities, on the major deck where equipment is, they have a crazy technology where in the event of a fire, they hit a button, and the place fills with these bubbles – in less than 2 minutes – that can put out any fire. BUT – it’s highly dangerous for people to be in it. Like death will ensue. So we started calling it the doomsday bubble blanket. A last resort option to save the ship from sinking in the event of a disaster on this deck.

At the end of the tours, 12 of us went to lunch before we said our farewells and headed home. All told, pretty amazing weekend filled with so many people I love!

On another note, my new term started up, so my days of boredom have come to an end, and ten tons of school work have kicked in!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Interestingly, I’ve gone out a few times, but they were paid by vendors. And the weekend counts as “travel”, though with staying with friends vs a hotel, we definitely saved on housing the 5 of us!

All shopping was either replacement or groceries. And while my guy and I went out a couple times, they total spend is still low and within my allotment.

Going to be a rough month in some ways though. My birthday is in a couple weeks, and the event planned will not be cheap, but it’s the whole family, so it’s worth it.